opinion byJEAN-LUC MARSH
At the beginning of 2014, Allie X was a minor blip on the radar, a pop upstart with a manicured sound that belied her ingénue status, but without the platform to make a sufficient splash.
That was until Katy Perry gave her a signal boost via Twitter, extolling her debut track, “Catch,” as her “SPRING JAM.” Two more songs followed in rapid succession, the slick “Prime” which improved upon “Catch” in nearly every way, and the less immaculate, but still entertaining “Bitch.” Her triad finished, X withdrew from the spotlight, keeping silent for the remainder of the year.
While she overwintered, X drew up ambitious plans to release at least five EPs or “CollXtions.” Her debut, CollXtion I, a seven-song collection, solidifies what she already showed a year ago: X occasionally has a knack for pop at its saccharine, venomous best. “Catch” and “Prime” remain the highlights by far, with the latter having lost little luster since its release, and the former’s sugarcoated threat still something to be reckoned with. “Bitch” is a little firebrand of a track, breaking form with the previous polish and embracing fuzz with its expletive, bestie-core message.
Then of course, remains the half of CollXtion I comprised of new material. “Hello” is a sprightly opener for the EP, with its music box chirps and Carly Rae Jepsen-esque romantic pining, which is to say breathless devotion with a hint of the pathetic, all of which works. “Tumor” is catchy, if trite fun that functions well as a middle of the road pop song. X only really missteps on penultimate track “Good,” which hangs inoffensively but unceremoniously for the majority of its run, redeemed slightly by its HAERTS-like outro. She makes up for it with an impassioned performance on closer “Sanctuary,” packing a platitude-laden vocal wallop.
Throughout CollXtion I, there emerges a larger fixation on medical motifs. “Hello” references pills prescribed to the protagonist by a doctor, “Catch” is replete with imagery of needles stuck in veins and pills “to take away the poison,” but “Tumor” is the most direct allusion to the allegory of health extending throughout the EP, comparing a past love to a malignant mass that requires excision. It adds a welcome edge of the macabre to otherwise spotless songs, also affording X and opportunity to demonstrate a heretofore-unused range that buoys the unoriginal themes found throughout the EP.
One year on, X’s ear for pop is still intact. Rave reviews are probably not in the cards for X’s debut EP, but CollXtion I is brief enough to make that a minor nitpick. No one said pop had to be complicated, and this pill goes down rather smoothly. B-